Animal rescue study comes to life for students

       Looking for a way to help new words come alive in her English as a Second Language (ESL) classrom at Midland Elementary, Jennie Steele introduced her students a month ago to a subject that's close to her heart: animal rescue.

Midland Elementary students Banessa Aviles and Jovanny Perez pose with a stuffed dog after the incident in which they helped rescue three young mixed-breed dogs. By chance, they had been learning at school about caring for "mutts."
Courtesy of Jennie Steele

       Also a volunteer with the North Shore Animal League, she got permission from the school to use the national Mutt-i-grees curriculum, which is aimed at helping youngsters learn compassion for the plight of sheltered, mixed-breed dogs (mutts) and, in the process, for each other.
       Little did Steele guess that the lessons would have an immediate impact. Two of her second-grade students, Banessa Aviles and Jovanny Perez, were riding their bicycles through their neighborhood recently when behind one of the trailers they saw a big plastic bag.
       “We heard barking and checked it out,” Banessa explained.
       Opening the bag, they found three young mixed-breed dogs, two that looked like poodles and one like a
       “weeny dog,” as Banessa put it. One of them ran off, at least temporarily, but the other two stayed. Banessa went to her house, and her parents let her bring the animals some water and ham.
       Eventually, all three dogs found homes in the neighborhood (although how or why they wound up there remains a mystery).
       “I am so inspired by Banessa and Jovanny,” Steele said. “They cared enough to help these dogs, and they knew what to do.”
       As might be guessed, both kids asked their parents if they could adopt one of the dogs, but were told no, because each already has a dog. Banessa's is named Cinnamon and Jovanny's is Gypsy - so there just wasn't room for more, they said their parents explained.
       The North Shore Animal League, located in New York, is a national no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. A large Animal League van was deployed to the Springs after the Waldo Canyon Fire last summer to help with pet concerns.

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